Virtually Yours: What is a Domain Name?

account_circle Register.com Team
creating a domain name

Key Takeaways

  • What is a domain name? And why is it important for your online endeavors?
  • As the online address for your website, your domain name will help your followers find you and set the tone for what your site is all about. 
  • Register.com has the resources you need to choose and register a domain name plus additional tools to make the most of your online experience. 

What’s in a name? In this case, plenty. Of course, you’ve heard about domain names but do you really understand what they are and what they can mean for your website? While your website may be just a fun way to pursue an interest or hobby, you want it to reflect your passion and personality. Truthfully, your domain may be the most important part of your online identity.

Let’s take a closer look at domain names, how they work, why they are important and how you can select one that’s perfect for your website. 

What is a Domain Name?

In the simplest terms, a domain name is your website address and what people type into the browser bar to visit your website. Your domain name is unique to your website and no one else can claim it after you purchase and register it. It is also part of a uniform resource locator (URL), a type of resource on the World Wide Web that identifies website addresses and makes them accessible to people searching for your site. 

To get a little more technical, think of the Internet as millions of computers all connected by one giant worldwide network that allows them to communicate with each other. Each one of these computers is given an Internet protocol (IP) address which is an identifying number (like 54.892.75.1). Think you could remember numbers like this to find all your favorite websites? Well, if you can, you have memory superpowers.

This is why domain names were created. Instead of typing in a long sequence of numbers, you only have to enter a web address featuring simple words or phrases – Register.com for example. Domain names help simplify the complex number codes and translate them into a word or phrase that is easy to remember. This ensures that finding and accessing a website doesn’t require a scientific mind. 

How Domain Names Work

When someone is ready to visit your website and enters a domain name, they simply hit the return key, and almost instantly your website homepage appears on their screen. Easy enough, right? Well, that’s the idea but it actually involves a complex series of steps that occur in a few seconds. After typing in a web address, a web browser first sends a request to a network of servers throughout the world that is part of the Domain Name System (DNS). 

These servers process the request and begin searching other servers for your website’s technical address. Once the address is located, a request for access is issued. The server that houses your website is managed by your hosting company. Your web host has a system in place to gather the data associated with the requested web page and send this information back to the browser that initiated the process. Soon, your page opens and is ready for viewing.

How a Domain Name Differs From a Website or Host

Some people get a little confused when it comes to domain names, websites and web hosts. Think of it this way: A domain name is your website address that people type in a web browser to find your site. A web host is the online server where your website “lives” and is made accessible to virtually everyone on the Internet. A website is made up of files, HTML pages, graphics and written content that people will see when they type in your domain name and access your site through your web host. 

All of these elements work together to create your online experience. You can purchase your domain name, website builder and web hosting service from different online providers but ideally, you will save money and simplify the process if you can get them all from one reliable source. Thankfully, there are companies that specialize in online marketing services and can help you quickly and easily get you up and running with a website that allows you to share your passion and interests with others. 

How to Choose a Domain Name

A good domain name is short, easy to remember and conveys the essence of your site to attract enthusiasts with similar interests. It can be any combination of letters and numbers and can even have a hyphen in it. However, you should avoid underscores and other characters that are hard to remember and may create confusion. Less is more and simpler is better. 

You can also use your domain name with a number of extensions. Of course, you’ll want .com but you can also add domain extensions like .photography, .golf, .yoga, .travel and other similar options to reflect your website’s focus. Assigning secondary extensions like these will help to prevent anyone from registering a name similar to yours which can make it harder for people to find your site. 

When choosing a name, show you mean business. Consider that you may want to monetize your hobby someday and people may pay for your expertise. Leave the door open to financial possibilities.

choosing domain name

How to Buy a Domain Name

To buy a domain name, start by looking for an experienced registrar. While you can expect to pay $15 to $35 a year for a domain name, some online resources offer discounts when you combine a domain name with other services like a website builder and web hosting. This allows you to easily and affordably manage all of your online services with one account. 

Typically, your domain name registrar will provide a database for you to search and once you find a name that is available, you can complete the registration process online. Once you've acquired your domain name, you're ready to build and launch your website and connect with your followers. 

Register.com: The Original Domain Name Resource

After registering over 2.5 million domain names, you could say that we know a thing or two about them – and we’re here to help. Register.com has over 20 years of proven results – that means we’re highly experienced, not old. We’re in touch with all things online and can put you in touch with the right domain name with fast and free registration with our website builder. Simply access and search our online database to determine if your name selection is available.

Register.com also offers you an easy to use website builder that you can use to create your site in minutes, options for private domain name registration to protect your personal information from spammers, marketers and bots and web hosting that gives your site a safe and secure online home. If you want to turn your hobby into a business, we can help you with an eCommerce page to start an online store, search engine optimization (SEO) keyword strategies to help more people find your website when searching online directories and business email solutions that make it easy to connect with people who share your interests.

Make a Great Name for Yourself

Learning more about domain names, how they work and how the right one can help you connect with more people who share your passion can lead to positive online connections and a bright future for your website. The Register.com team is here if you need anything – we'd be happy to help anytime.

 

Products mentioned in this blog post include:

 

Images: Shutterstock